The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan

The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vincente is truly prophetic in the same way Brave New World and 1984 are prophetic. It’s a dystopian detective story set in 2076.  The cloud containing everyone’s deepest, darkest online secrets has “burst.”  Everyone’s information has been revealed over a 40 day “flood.”  People’s lives have been ruined. Naturally, society has a knee jerk reaction, as we humans are prone to do.  The internet is banned. Privacy becomes so highly valued that people start wearing masks and costumes in public.  Journalism becomes the “fourth estate,” federally regulated.  Paparazzi, unlicensed and illegal journalist, become something like underground detectives. Enter our hero.
P.I., the main character, is a paparazzo who is investigating a woman’s background when he stumbles into a murder mystery and conspiracy.  One people are willing to kill for. The story has a great L.A. noir vibe to it while at the same time being brilliantly futuristic.  The mix of antiquated technology, like pay phones, and new tech that we wished existed, like magnetic cars, somehow creates a highly-believable world.
The Private Eye is a digital comic, and Martin and Vincente do a beautiful job with panel arrangement and coloring.  Others have written about how well they’ve done this, and what the digital format means to comics in general.  So, I will just point you to one of their articles here.  It’s good stuff.
I said at the beginning that this book is prophetic. How?  We now live in a world where Facebook depresses people, because their real lives don’t look nearly as good as their friends’ online identities. It seems like every week the news runs a story of hackers stealing more account information from online services.  Throughout the 2016 election cycle we’ve heard about email hacks, private servers, Bleachbit, and Ken Bone’s comments on Reddit porn.  Have you listened to the Radiolab episode about Darokode? Listen to it. The Private Eye doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
Seriously, if you haven’t read The Private Eye you need to quit what you’re doing and immediately go to Panel Syndicate and buy it. It’s name-your-price, DRM-free. You can also get a hard copy here.

Elektra: Root of Evil by Chichester and McDaniel

I have literally had Elektra: Root of Evil for years. I just never read it, mainly because I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to Elektra: Assassin.  How could it?  Bill Sienkiewicz didn’t draw it and Frank Miller didn’t write it.  So, it has sat bagged and boarded until this week. Netflix’s Luke Cage inspired me to dig around in the old boxes, and here we are.  Elektra: Root of Evil is a four-issue limited series from the same team that wrote the Daredevil Fall from Grace storyline.
I have to say my fear of disappointment was warranted.  Root of Evil is not terrible, but it’s not great.  Meh.  I’m not a fan of the artwork by McDaniel.  Although, there are some interesting panels, all of them during flashbacks.  McDaniel conjures some images from Elektra: Assassin during her memories of training with Stick and the Chaste in the snow.  There’s also a strange, but interesting shift when she remembers Tekagi creeping on her in the lake. This turns into a weird love affair, which leads me to the storyline.
The storyline in Root of Evil felt very plain to me.  Again, meh. Elektra assembles a team to take on the dark Snakeroot clan.  Snakeroot is attempting to restore power to the sword Sakki by taking three specific innocent lives. I never think of Elektra as being someone who would put together a “team,” so that seemed strange. Elektra bounces from insecure to cocky throughout. There are a few surprises and clues to her past, which were the highlights of the story.  Overall, I just wasn’t impressed. I realize none of this is fair, since I can’t help but compare it to the Miller story. Take that for what it’s worth.  I look forward to seeing what they do with her character in the Netflix series.